Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Seek – Locate – Destroy!

It's her! Finally!

And just as excitingly, though meaning a lot less to me, it's him, too!

Terry Nation makes us wait for Travis. We hear a lot about him from Servalan and from Servalan's cute young squaddie friend. He tells her that he won't serve alongside Travis, that he's a butcher and a villain who is, basically, not merely licensed to kill but driven to it as well. We hear about his ruthless effectiveness, so ruthless that (even in the nightmare future of memory wipes and random killings that we have already seen, the world in which children are abused in the name of justice and lawyers gunned down in cold blood, not to mention wet weather) there was somebody somewhere raising an eyebrow and saying, 'Ooh, bit much, I think.'

Servalan really couldn't give less of a shit. In fact, she seems to have personally intervened to ensure Travis wasn't dismissed from the security ranks. Was that because she thought he was useful to her? Did she know about Travis's history with Blake and choose him because of it? Or is she planning on using him in various future campaigns in which she can, if she needs to, deny responsibility for the outcome? Does she know what she's got in Travis?

She joins the episode's writer in making us wait for Travis, but she does it to show him who's boss. She sends a clear message for him to wait in reception. But leafing through old back issues of Bella and The People's Friend is evidently not on his agenda. He refuses her show of power. He demonstrates his maverick tendencies direct to his boss.

So even in this opening episode, there is a game of cat and mouse going on even between the aggressor's. I like that. There's flirtation too, of course, and how could there not be? Servalan and Travis are sex kittens who have found themselves in the most sterile environment you can imagine, beasts of the savannah in a future where the wilderness has been paved over. But do they want to mate or kill one another, or something else...?

Servalan finds Travis's missing eye 'displeasing'. Travis, I suspect, is not much of a ladies man ('I'm always in the market for a rough analogy,' he purrs at a male technician) and only has eye for Roj Blake. After all, as neither of them can forget, he waited for him for two days, in a basement and, what's more, presumably in that skin-tight black PVC outfit. No wonder he was so aggressive when it came to it: nobody likes to be stood up, and that outfit must be a very snug fit. When Servalan comes across him, seated in front of some giant blow-up photos of Blake in pain, he can, we assume, barely contain his excitement.

What does she make of it all? We know everything about Travis, from his criminal record to his hot temper, not to mention the missing eye and the gun in his finger (are the Kraals the great evil behind the Federation?). Servalan is onscreen from the get-go, but giving nothing away. She asks the questions, gives the orders, even gives the episode its rather Dalek-tastic title. Yet we barely catch her job position, hardly understand her power or her plans.

What with the nifty pacing at the start of the episode, it all adds up to a rather satisfying episode. There's not enough for Avon to do – to be honest, there's barely enough for anybody to do: "Blake's Three" would have been a much tenser ensemble, but there you are – but at last we have more characters of his calibre.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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